Iowa Native/UNI Grad Gets One Of NBA’s Top Head Coaching Openings
Three straight second-round playoff defeats have cost a longtime NBA coach his job and provided a great opportunity for an Iowa native.
Doc Rivers has been a head coach in the NBA for nearly a quarter-century. After 5 seasons in Orlando, nine in Boston, seven with the L.A. Clippers, and the last three with the Philadelphia 76ers, Rivers is out of a job. The City of Brotherly Love didn't show Rivers a lot of love, as he was sent packing earlier this month after three straight defeats in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Replacing Rivers is a man who's also had an illustrious coaching career. Carroll, Iowa native Nick Nurse played at UNI from 1985-89. In 1991, at the age of 23, he became the head coach at Grand View University in Des Moines. He was the nation's youngest head coach at the time. That was just the beginning.
Nurse coached in Europe for 11 years, winning two British Basketball League championships. He returned to the U.S. and had great success as coach of Iowa Energy in the NBA D-League, where he won two titles. Then it was on the NBA.
After five years as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors, Nurse became the team's head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. That same year, the team won the NBA title. In 2020, he was named NBA Coach of the Year. The following season the team struggled as they were forced to play in Tampa Bay due to COVID restrictions in Canada. Last season, the team made it back to the playoffs and after a .500 season in 2022-23, Nurse was let go.
Five weeks later, Nurse has a new job as the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. Of the current NBA openings, the Sporting News calls the 76ers' job the 3rd-best available. Nurse will be coaching a team that went 54-28 in the regular season and features 2023 NBA MVP Joel Embiid.
Nurse, 55, and his wife Roberta have two sons, Leo and Rocky Levi.
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